As film studios start peppering theaters with their Oscar contenders, streaming services are delivering their own high season of online content. Netflix, for example, will be releasing two acclaimed features from the 75th Venice International Film Festival, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, winner of the prestigious Golden Lion Award, and the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, winner of the Golden Osella Award for Best Screenplay. But the bread and butter of online platforms is still found in the series format, and the “here and now and all the time” demand of streaming viewership means a bevy of new series each month.
Some old favorites will be coming back, such as a new season of House of Cards (sans Spacey) on Netflix and the return of Outlander on Starz. For viewers looking for something entirely fresh and unfamiliar on their screens, though, here are three much-anticipated shows premiering this November.
Homecoming (Amazon Prime, Nov. 2)
This Gimlet Media original is the showpiece in the latest Hollywood trend of podcast-to-screen adaptations. Some other series that first spoke into the microphone before ever stepping in front of the cameras are HBO’s 2 Dope Queens and Amazon’s Lore, but neither had the long-awaited buzz of Homecoming, which premieres on Amazon November 2. Bringing visuals to this adaptation is television auteur Sam Esmail, the man and the mind behind USA Network’s Mr. Robot. Homecoming is propped up by some significant star power as well in the form of Julia Roberts, who is starring in a television series for the first time in her career.
Roberts plays a caseworker at a facility that helps former soldiers in their transition back to civilian life. Fans of Esmail’s work on Mr. Robot who are hoping for something dark and twisty won’t be disappointed, as this seemingly wholesome government welfare program gives way to more sinister conspiracies hidden somewhere deep inside the shadowy halls of power. Homecoming looks to be another taut psychological thriller from Esmail that revels in ratcheting up the paranoia and suspense.
My Brilliant Friend (HBO, Nov. 18)
From antiseptic U.S. government facilities to the grimy, gritty streets of 1950s Naples, for those less interested in psychological thrillers and more interested in psychological portraits, HBO’s My Brilliant Friend may be more to your taste. Adapted from Elena Ferrante’s international best-selling novel of the same name, the series plumbs the joys, horrors, and complexities of childhood. Ferrante’s novels, of which My Brilliant Friend is only the first in a four-book series, chronicle a 60-year friendship between two women. The eight-part HBO series, which premieres November 18, captures their girlhood and adolescence together, exploring the mysteries and rivalries of childhood attachment as these two young women navigate the upheavals of growing up, alongside the harsh and violent realities of their impoverished neighborhood.
Viewers allergic to subtitles, beware: My Brilliant Friend is presented in the Italian language and Neapolitan dialect authentic to where the story takes place.
The Little Drummer Girl (AMC, Nov. 19)
The BBC production of The Little Drummer Girl is more than a series; it’s a television event, and AMC has signed on to share this spectacular moment with American audiences. Adapted from the novel by critically acclaimed spy-fiction author John Le Carré, this limited series will unfold in two-hour installments over three consecutive nights, starting November 19. The series retains the original setting of the novel — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of the late 1970s — so be ready for big hair, colorful threads, and analogue gadgetry as these spymasters try their hands at some good old-fashioned subterfuge.
The cast includes Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), whose mere presence is like the brewing calm of a thunderstorm, and Alexander Skarsgård, a native Swede who is becoming increasingly a household name here in the States, after his recurring roles in True Blood and Big Little Lies. Perhaps the most anticipated performance is that of Florence Pugh, in a follow-up to her absolutely devastating debut in William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth last year. (Pugh can also be seen in the series adaptation of King Lear now streaming on Amazon Prime.)
This dynamic cast is under the direction of Korean cinema visionary Park Chan-wook. Park exploded onto the film scene with the gut-wrenching instant classic Oldboy (2003) and has consistently delivered top-notch filmmaking ever since. After demonstrating the precision with which he could tease out a mystery in the erotic thriller The Handmaiden (2016), adapting Le Carré’s work is a welcome addition to this director’s already impressive oeuvre.